The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 15, 2012

Most of us have no choice about work

By Kelly Kazek
kelly@athensnews-courier.com

— I’m not one to question other people’s parenting choices. At least not to their faces.

Seriously, I realized when Shannon was about 8 years old and began spending time in friends’ homes that every parent has a different approach. As long as safety was not an issue, I vowed not to judge.

I have friends who stayed home to raise their children, and friends with careers. Some kids were raised by single parents, some had two parents, some had four of five, by the time you counted steps. And sometimes other parents had a positive impact: I had a hard time getting Shannon to eat veggies, but I learned from the mom of her friend that she was eating broccoli at her house. Who am I to question success?

Now, because I have a duty to my readers to bring you all the up-to-date and useless information you could never use, I am obligated to tell you about a celebrity parenting practice that’s, to use the scientific term, icky.

About two weeks ago, actress Alicia Silverstone, who hasn’t done many films since her teenage hit “Clueless,” posted a video to her blog that shows her feeding her 10-month-old son by chewing food and passing it into his mouth, like a mama bird does.

Can you say, ewwwww?

Like I said, I don’t judge. Most of the time.

In this case, I have to ask Alicia: “What, you don’t own a blender?”

I realize mothers did this eons ago and some mothers in Third World countries may still practice pre-chewing if the only available food is too bulky for the baby to digest.

But Alicia, last time I checked, Hollywood was not the Third World. Not even the Second. In fact, it appears to be an unnumbered world known as Outer Space.

I know firsthand there are blenders in Hollywood. I went there once and visited that hotel where Julia Roberts filmed that hooker-fairy-tale called “Pretty Woman,” and I saw all kinds of modern contraptions. In fact, if an A-list celebrity asked, some waiters there would probably chew his food for him.

Here’s the problem with the practice: It can spread disease. This is why God invented food processors. This is why only birds and people with no other choice practice pre-chewing.

Don’t you think if a mom from Ethiopia had access to a blender, she’d use it?

This whole primitive is “natural,” and therefore healthy trend is ridiculous.

Oh, and, Alicia, you might want to skip that Hollywood-baby-naming trend in the future or Bear Blu could wind up with a sister named Antelope Magenta.

One area I really refuse to judge other moms is their decision to stay home or to work. I understood, in principal, the outcry against pundit Hilary Rosen after she commented that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, had never worked a day in her life. Many women were up in arms over the thought of women being pitted against one another.

But I don’t think Hilary was talking about working women vs. stay-at-home moms. Remember, I don’t believe in political parties, so this next remark is an observation about the entire political system: I think Hilary Rosen was talking about women having choices and saying wealthy Ann Romney had the choice to stay home and raise her children. She was saying this caused her to be out of touch with regular folks.

I agree. And don’t bring her battle with cancer into this argument because even middle-class working moms, like my own, have done that. This is about elitism.

Most of us, especially in this economy, do not have a choice whether we work. I have worked my entire life because if I hadn’t my daughter and I would be homeless. Do you think Ann Romney has ever wondered how to pay a $10 field trip fee at her child’s school or written a check that was likely to bounce so her kids could have dinner that night?

I’m not picking on Ann. I think our system has devolved to the point that all politicians, and by extension their families, are so wealthy they can’t truly have an understanding of the lives of ordinary people.

They have a word for that in England: Royalty.

So until I see a politician pre-chewing food for his or her kids for want of a blender, I know none of them truly understand my life.

If they feel judged, I’m sorry. They can just chew on it.